Warning: You will more than likely be offended by this post. And if you are, take it as your cue that you need to do some work.
I’m going to go out on a limb here (since that’s where the fruit is) and suggest that most folks who read this blog are white. Maybe female, maybe male. Most of the readers probably have at least a bachelor’s degree, and I’m going to guess that even more have or are in the process of obtaining masters. I’m also going to take a wild stab and infer that socio-economically, most readers (or your families of origin) have not checked less than $45,000 as their income level other than during the time of pursuing higher education. And finally, most readers did not think twice about being able to marry someone in their same ethnic, educational, economic, and social group.
What you should know about these assertions:
You represent the dominant, i.e., majority, culture in North America.
You are by all standards over-educated and highly specialized in your fields.
You represent middle class income bracket in the United States.
You more than likely perpetuate racialization of social and economic systems without thinking about it.
You are comfortable traveling to another country to live and learn cross-culturally.
You more than likely however worship in a congregation that surrounds you with icons, music, and cultural references that you have understood since toddlerhood.
You are self-defined progressive.
Now that that’s over, a true confession. Save for the income level, I fit every one of these statements and correlated assertions too.
But here is a tool for doing a closer self-assessment. This can be done in your home:
Does the art on the walls either capture something of your culture or ethnic group, or does it come from a place you have traveled in the world?
Who authors the majority of your books? Men, white women, Latinos, African-American men or women, Asian-American women?
Do you know what a line dance is? [if you think it’s a country thing, you are wrong]
When you watch the 10pm news, is your ethnic group the perpetrator of crime or the solver of crime?
Are you married to a person of your ethnic group? Did you ever consider that you would not marry a person of your ethnic group with your same education level?
When you enter a social function, do you see more people like you or unlike you?
Did you watch The Help and think how grateful you are for how far we have come?
How many neighbors have you had that are from an American minority group?
Do you know who The Roots, Gnarls Barkley, and Mystikal are?
Do you have an authority figure in your life who is not of your gender or ethnic group?
And this is just the beginning. But you should have enough information about yourself and your ethnic and social location to be able to entertain the following reality:
When we talk about reconciliation occurring in the church, we really mean, “White folks want the black folks, or Latinos or Asian-Americans, to come to them. We want to see that the ‘other’ will play nice and let us keep a few things…like our over-priced Starbucks lattes and pretentious organic sandwiches and salads…and cultural icons and symbols and reference points and organizational flow charts. Once we know that we don’t have to give something up, THEN we white folk will go to coffee with our new friends to talk about how good God is and how great God’s love is for all his children. But we might not worship together often…because we are just so culturally…different…and we all need to worship God how we feel most comfortable.”
And I’m just going to go ahead and call, Bullshit, from one white reader/writer to another. If we want to take seriously the created order of Genesis 1 and 2 of shalom and right relationship, if we want to fulfill our joyful duty to the message of reconciliation in Christ at the cross, and if we are really sincere in pursuing racial reconciliation, I’m going to give you one assignment. And it’s not, make a friend.
Find a church where you will not be in the majority group. Go worship there one Sunday in the next month. Shake hands, be uncomfortable, feel lost. Stay until the end. Answer these questions.
How did it feel to worship in a place where you didn’t know the songs or even language?
How many references were made in the sermon you did not understand? List them.
What words were used to describe God and to describe you that were new to your ear?
Then, share your experience with us via posting to this blog post. Oh, and leave the latte in the car. It’s disrespectful in the house of God.